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Another homecoming for Matza

In the early 1980s, Leon Wagner, an up-and-coming bond salesman at Shearson Lehman Brothers in New York, regularly ate lunch with Bob Matza, then chief financial officer of the firm's fixed-income division, to discuss their respective careers.

In the early 1980s, Leon Wagner, an up-and-coming bond salesman at Shearson Lehman Brothers in New York, regularly ate lunch with Bob Matza, then chief financial officer of the firm's fixed-income division, to discuss their respective careers. Matza became CFO of Lehman Brothers and later president of money manager Neuberger Berman, negotiating that firm's $3 billion sale to Lehman in 2003. Wagner worked for Michael Milken's infamous junk bond group at Drexel Burnham Lambert and ran CIBC World Markets' high-yield trading business before co-founding New York investment firm GoldenTree Asset Management in 2000.

Now Matza, 49, is getting back together with his old pal. Last month he left Neuberger to become president of GoldenTree, which specializes in bank debt and distressed securities. The firm wants to shore up its senior management as it expands and diversifies; it created a real estate investing arm in March 2005 and opened a European office in the fall. Last year GoldenTree also lost its CFO of five years, Ray Fernandez, to newly founded Greenwich, Connecticut, hedge fund Trigram Capital Management, where he became COO.

"Businesses succeed when people operate at the highest level of their talents. Management of the business was not my best talent," jokes Wagner, 52. "To get someone like Bob, who has demonstrated success over his career strategizing, is a great opportunity."

Matza, who will oversee finance, management and strategy, will only hint at his plans for $7 billion-in-assets GoldenTree. "There are many similarities between GoldenTree and Neuberger, and I believe I can help in a thoughtful way," he says.